Luis Rodrigalvarez hails from Spain and has traveled widely. Born in Madrid, he likes to visit San Sebastian on the Northern Coast, a stone's throw from the Pyrenees. Luis has also spent time in Dublin where he gained an appreciation of Oysters and Guinness for breakfast!
While in high school Luis studied drafting. This opened up the field of design, where he has traversed ever since. Luis helped design and build the AVE simulator used by conductors in Spain to practice for the High Speed Trains. His favorite collaboration was with the award winning Spanish sculptor, Juan Muñoz, whose work has been exhibited all over the world, including the Tate Modern in London. While Luis has worked for large companies, he has always preferred small design studios.
Luis moved to the United Sates in 2005 where his wife was studying at the University of Virginia. It was in Charlottesville that he joined Chris Jessee designing buildings for model train sets. Through their collaborative partnership Cardboard Safari was born. Luis designed the iconic and ever popular Bucky, which launched Cardboard Safari into the hearts and minds of people across the planet.
Aside from the buck and bull, Luis has designed several other animal busts including the moose, bison, elephant, lion, ram, giraffe, and rhino (also the full body rhino in cardboard and metal). He also designed the bass fish, whale tail, rocket, DNA helix, heart box, chess set, alpine tree, and many of the wreaths, including the Fleur De Lis wreath which he created for his wife when they moved to her home town of New Orleans. His favorite project was creating the bull trophy after a visit to Spain. Luis felt incredibly proud when he found Toro for sale in a Madrid shop.
Luis likes to listen to anything from Bossa Nova to Opera to 80's British Pop. His favorite book is Rudyard Kipling's, The Jungle Book. Luis eases his homesickness by preparing Spanish cuisine (to the best of his ability, given the lack of essential ingredients). He also appreciates Andouille Gumbo and Corn Dogs in his adopted stateside home.
Emerging from the landscape of rural Idaho, Nate Main's artistic journey led him into the field of drafting and then graphic design. The pursuit of an artistic career became more of a reality to Nate when figure drawing teacher and accomplished illustrator, Dave Clemons, urged him to attend art school. This encouragement led Nate to San Francisco where he focused on illustration at the Academy of Art University and then to Encinitas where he continued to study art at Watts Atelier.
A chance foray into the wind industry led Nate to Washington state where, as a service technician, he made a daily 200 foot climb to work on wind turbines. With some technical experience under his belt and the wind in his hair, Nate decided to seek more creative pastures in Charlottesville, VA, where he was discovered by Cardboard Safari.
Nate has employed both his artistic and technical skills at Cardboard Safari, designing such greats as Tex the Longhorn, Merlin the Unicorn, Vince the Skull, Jack the Human Mask, the Pumpkin Wreath, the Rocket Table, the Ray Gun, and his beautifully illustrative Landscape Reliéves.
Nate's figure drawings have been exhibited at the McGuffey Art Center. The designer profile sketches on this page were created by Nate. You can also see some of his illustrations on our blog. He is inspired by the many forms of visual art and design around him, as well as the animals whose character he aspires to capture in his designs for Cardboard Safari.
Michael Ripple was born in Denver, CO, where he discovered an interest in black & white photography while in high school. In 2011 Mike moved to Charlottesville with his fiancé who was pursuing a degree at the prestigious U.Va. School of Law. With over ten years of printing, design, and programming experience, Mike brought his broad pallet of skills to Cardboard Safari.
Art, particularly Baroque style, is a major inspiration for Mike. The art he finds in the tomes of the past is applied to the projects at hand. With his self taught skills, Mike has photographed the majority of the product images you will find on our website. In addition, he has designed the spectacular Modern Art, Floral and Flag print Animal Busts.
Mike is currently pursuing his BS in Business Management while working full time. When not at work you might find Mike honing his marksmanship skills, eating Texas Style BBQ, listening to metal music, and photographing the world around him.
Christa Albano was born in New York and raised in Charlottesville. She has also spent time in Italy, Morocco, and the Dominican Republic. As a young child she attended Waldorf School where her creative skills were encouraged through knitting, sewing, crocheting, woodworking, painting, drawing, and calligraphy. Says Christa, "We were one of those no tv families, so there was always some kind of creative project in the works."
Interested in the combination of art, creativity, and technology, Christa experienced a natural pull toward graphic and web design. Christa majored in Studio Art and Psychology at the University of Virginia, and also completed a year long post-graduate program at Boston University learning Website Design and Development. Her degree in psychology has been instrumental in helping her to have successful relationships with her clients, along with the design skills she's gained through school, self-teaching, and a variety of jobs.
Christa has designed patterns, packaging, artist cards, and lettering for Cardboard Safari, including the Camo print bucks and the Star print unicorns. She loves seeing the patterns rendered on the assembled animals. She has also helped to develop and design the company website. She often has a full plate of projects through her company, Albano Design.
Christa is inspired by the world around her, the beautiful and the bad. From a street sign to an album cover, she is always absorbing her surroundings. When she is not busily working on a client's print or web job, she can be found cooking, playing the piano, reading a thriller, hiking, or sailing.
Eyan the Elephant is Christa's favorite Cardboard Safari creature. "He is super cute and gives me lots of surface area for patterns," she says.
Jackson Bewley hails from Birmingham, Alabama, but migrated to Charlottesville to earn his B.S. degree in Architecture at U.Va.
As a child Jackson was the Lego master and knew from a young age that he would study architecture.
Jackson thrives in the intersection of digital tools, coding, and design. After a couple of seasons as an intern at Cardboard Safari, he has become a full time designer. His skills as a technician make his creative designs even more complex. He has had the most fun thus far designing the Hammerhead Sharks, but has also designed Jack’s companion, Jill, as well as several awesome products yet to be released.
Jackson is inspired by found objects, old cool things, cheap rational deigns, collage, and experimental music.
When Jackson isn’t designing the next big thing for Cardboard Safari, he might be Kayaking Virginia rivers, climbing snowy New England mountains, or reading Tolstoy in the sun. He has worked as a backpacking and canoe expedition guide and dreams of spending time in the mountains of Northern New Mexico.
Will Green hails from the DC area but has traveled throughout the US, Canada, and Southern Europe. With a foundation in designing sand castles, legos, and wallets from duct tape, Will decided in his early twenties to bail on his studies in medicine and follow his creative heart. Before landing at Cardboard Safari Will worked as a carpenter’s apprentice, piano teacher, chemistry researcher, EMT, lighting designer, and wood shop assistant. Will is inspired by science, big stuff, emergent behavior, and stand-up comedy. He appreciates Frank Lloyd Wright, snowboarding, Chopin, and a deep bowl of Pho. Designer of our large line of Symbols, Love Wall Art, and Build-a-Box sets, we look forward to all the new products Will has in store for us!
Bob Anderson is an artist, architect, author, and a conservationist. As an artist he was influenced at a very early age by N.C. Wyeth book illustrations and etchings by Albrecht Dürer. His early attempts to duplicate the styles of these great artists have resulted in the evolution of his own unique style of highly detailed oil paintings and pen and ink drawings. These early beginnings in his artistic development occurred while he was living on the island of Oahu in Hawaii where he spent his outdoor time playing in local patches of tropical forest, eventually leading to a life-long fascination with jungles. The work he does today represents a perfect confluence of his artistic skills with his love for nature and rain forests.
During the past several years Bob has been involved with a grass-roots conservation and research organization called Osa Conservation where he has been the artist-in-residence at their Piro Biological Research Station on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. His most recent book, Costa Rica – A Little Rhino Coloring Book, was created from his own personal experiences living in the rainforests while collaborating with researchers, conservationists, and volunteers who spend their lives working for this organization. This and several other of Bob's books can be found on our website.
Chris Jessee is the visionary and entrepreneur behind Cardboard Safari. In early childhood Chris began drawing, building models, and making handmade gifts for his friends and family. By the age of ten he knew he wanted to make a living by building things.
Born in Bristol, VA, Chris holds a degree in architecture from North Carolina State and spent many years working in architecture firms. Impressed with how efficiently a project could be realized once computing skills were added to his architectural foundation, Chris made his way to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville to build computer models and web sites. He soon took the giant leap to creating his own clever business and Cardboard Safari was born.
Chris is inspired by nature and has a mission to conserve while creating inspiring products. Collaboration is central to the design process at Cardboard Safari; Chris provides input on the prototypes as they are being developed. One of his favorite projects was a giant holiday wreath for Macy's. With limited time and resources the project was realized out of herculean team effort.
Also a model train aficionado, Chris is building an empire in his basement. His Crystal Palace model was exhibited in the Museum of London.
When he is not tirelessly working at the success of Cardboard Safari, he can be found hiking in the woods, listening to Neil Young while snacking on animal crackers, or reading Where the Wild Things Are to his daughter.
A man of his word, Chris says, "Life is short. Don’t be afraid to try new things or take on big challenges."